In blazing sunshine on 25th April, the Westlake Prefects proudly took part in the ANZAC Day parade and Commemoration service in Takapuna. Deputy Head Boy, Jason Churches, read one of the scripture lessons and together with Finlay Brewis, David Lin and Winston Yao, laid a wreath on behalf of the school. It was an incredibly humbling experience to pay homage to the thousands of New Zealanders who gave their lives to retain the freedom we so often take for granted today.
Further abroad, the touring Westlake hockey group spent Anzac Day in southern Belgium to commemorate the centenary of the Third Battle of Ypres. They attended a freezing dawn service at the Buttes New British Cemetery in Polygon Wood, the scene of bitter fighting south of Passchendaele, before travelling into Ypres for a service at the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing. The boys were stunned by its sheer immensity, engraved with the names of more than 50,000 soldiers who were killed in the Ypres region during WW1 and who have no known grave. The final service of the day was at the New Zealand memorial in Messines. The setting felt decidedly Kiwi – complete with a Māori waiata to commemorate the New Zealand Division’s success in taking Messines Ridge. Calum Grassick delivered a powerful reading about a young New Zealander who was killed twelve days after joining his squadron, while Daniel Young and Netesh Sukha laid wreaths on behalf of the school.
In the USA, students and staff on the Universities tour attended an ANZAC Dawn Service at the Los Angeles National Cemetery, hosted by the Australian Consulate on behalf of New Zealand, Australia and Turkey. At 6am the service began with consulate generals from Australia, New Zealand and Turkey paying their respects and thanks to the fallen and the service of veterans and military personnel that continue to this day. The relationship of all three countries along with the United States was acknowledged in this very unique memorial. New Zealand’s Consul-General, Mr Leon Grice welcomed the boys and led the Ode of Remembrance. Following the service, the group was invited to the Gun Fire breakfast which consisted of hot dogs, lamingtons, savouries and ANZAC biscuits.